They had a suspect. They dragged her into the temple courts where Jesus was teaching. She was accused; caught in the act of adultery; condemned by the law. They asked this young Rabbi’s approval. He baffled them. They slunk away, all but her. After a few words with Jesus, she left too.
But He went right on teaching, and baffling – right there close to the place where the cash offerings were thrown in. He still had a crowd, including some Pharisees who said His testimony wasn’t valid because He testified about Himself. He said He was testifying about His Father, whom they did not know. But nobody put a hand on Him, because it wasn’t His time yet.
Yet even some who believed in Him were offended when He said His words would set them free. They countered that they were Abraham’s children and had never been slaves. Pretty funny, when you think about it … as close as the temple was to the Roman garrisons. It wasn’t funny to them. They were ready to kill Him.
Instead of backing off for His own safety, He told them that God should be their Father; that before Abraham existed, He had been with the Father. For that blasphemy, they took up stones to kill Him … but He slipped away. (John 8)
After that, He moved cautiously – but couldn’t help having compassion on a man born blind, and couldn’t help but heal him and teach His followers that physical handicaps aren’t punishments for sin; they are opportunities to glorify God. After the poor man and his parents had been grilled about the healing, Jesus sought him out to leave a few words of teaching with him. But, overheard by some Pharisees, He replied to their retort that they were the blind ones. (John 9)
By the time He finished explaining His role as a shepherd, they were convinced He was possessed by a demon.
Then winter came, and He returned to the temple – to Solomon’s Colonnade – to teach. When pressed to be the kind of Messiah that others wanted, He refused. And once again they picked up stones to throw at Him and kill Him. And once again He escaped their grasp. (John 10)
Right there in the temple. Just the place to kill someone. Not outside the city or camp, as commanded by God in Leviticus 24:14 or Numbers 15:35. No; right there in God’s house … right on the doorstep of God’s sanctuary.
They had probably been incensed when Pilate had mixed the blood of some Galileeans with their sacrifices there (Luke 13:1). But this was different. This was a case of a blasphemer who healed on the Sabbath. The two wrongs made it right, right then and there.
I don’t know how He got away; whether by divine intervention or miraculous transport or swift stealth and strength. I do know He escaped because it wasn’t His time. And it was His place.
We would never think of doing such a thing. We’d never assassinate someone in our sanctuaries. Not literally; not figuratively. Those places are too holy to accuse and condemn another soul who claimed God as Father; to cast aspersions on their character; to consign them to hell and demand their penitence and apology before us. We wouldn’t dare to do it in His place.